Coconuts grow on large palm trees known scientifically as Cocos nucifera. Despite the name, the coconut is botanically considered a fruit rather than a nut.
Coconut water is the juice found in the center of a young, green coconut. It helps nourish the fruit.
As the coconut matures, some of the juice remains in liquid form while the rest ripens into the solid white flesh known as coconut meat.
Coconut water forms naturally in the fruit and contains 94% water and very little fat.
It should not be confused with coconut milk, which is made by adding water to grated coconut meat. Coconut milk contains about 50% water and is very high in coconut fat.
Coconuts take 10–12 months to fully mature. Coconut water typically comes from young coconuts about 6–7 months of age, though it’s also found in mature fruit.
An average green coconut provides about 0.5–1 cups of coconut water.
One cup (240 ml) contains 46 calories, as well as:
Carbs: 9 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Vitamin C: 10% of the RDI
Magnesium: 15% of the RDI
Manganese: 17% of the RDI
Potassium: 17% of the RDI
Sodium: 11% of the RDI
Calcium: 6% of the RDI
Free radicals are unstable molecules produced in your cells during metabolism. Their production increases in response to stress or injury.
When there are too many free radicals, your body enters a state of oxidative stress, which can damage your cells and increase disease risk.
Research on animals exposed to toxins has shown that coconut water contains antioxidants that modify free radicals so they no longer cause harm.
One study found that rats with liver damage showed significant improvement in oxidative stress when treated with coconut water compared to rats that received no treatment.
In another study, rats on a high-fructose diet were treated with coconut water. Free radical activity decreased, as did blood pressure, triglycerides, and insulin levels.
So far, no studies have investigated this antioxidant activity in humans.
Research has shown that coconut water can lower blood sugar levels and improve other health markers in diabetic animals.
In one study, diabetic rats treated with coconut water maintained better blood sugar levels than the control group.
The same study also found that the rats given coconut water had lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, indicating good long-term blood sugar control.
Another study noticed that providing coconut water to rats with diabetes led to improvements in blood sugar levels and reductions in markers of oxidative stress.
However, controlled studies are needed to confirm these effects in humans.
Nevertheless, with its 3 grams of fiber and digestible carb content of only 6 grams per cup (240 ml), coconut water can easily fit into a meal plan for people with diabetes.
It’s also a good source of magnesium, which may increase insulin sensitivity and decrease reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
Drinking enough fluids is important for kidney stone prevention.
Although plain water is a great choice, one study suggests that coconut water maybe even better.
Kidney stones form when calcium, oxalate, and other compounds combine to form crystals in your urine.
These can then form stones. However, some people are more susceptible to developing them than others.
In a study in rats with kidney stones, coconut water prevented crystals from sticking to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. It also reduced the number of crystals formed in the urine.
Researchers believe that coconut water helped reduce free radical production that occurred in response to high oxalate levels in urine.
Keep in mind that this is the first study examining coconut water’s effects on kidney stones. More research is needed in this area.
Drinking coconut water may be helpful to reduce heart disease risk.
In one study, rats that consumed coconut water had reductions in blood cholesterol and triglycerides. They also experienced significant decreases in liver fat.
In another study, the same researchers fed rats a similar diet supplemented with the same dosage (4 ml per 100 grams of body weight) of coconut water.
After 45 days, the coconut water group had a reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels that rivaled the effects of a statin drug used to lower cholesterol.
Keep in mind that this was a very high dose. In human terms, it would be equivalent to a 150-pound (68-kg) person consuming 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of coconut water per day.
Nevertheless, the finding that it reduced cholesterol as effectively as a statin drug is very impressive and should be further investigated.